Financial Survivalism: Moving Past Persistent Challenges & Embracing Sustainability
Why do we resist the responsibility that leads to sustainability?
Because it's hard. Embracing responsibility requires setting aside the short-term benefit for the long-term gain. But it's not easy, even when we've fully committed. In fact, it can feel quite like we're being relentlessly hunted.
The Persistent Weight of Real Life
In the classic movie The Terminator, a cyborg from the future is sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, the mother of resistance leader John Connor. The entire movie is her running and escaping execution by this relentless killer. With the help of a soldier from the future and some luck, she’s finally (after being persistently hunted) able to destroy the terminator and rest.
This story is a great overlay of what it feels like to survive in the challenging universe we live. This impending doom ruthlessly chases us with few moments of relief along the way. Eventually, it wears us down and we are forced to face it head-on.
In the movie's end, Sarah faced the Terminator in a factory. Either she was going to be terminated or the T-800 was. While she had the help of a hydraulic press, it was Sarah who ultimately destroyed the relentless machine, empowering her to be the strong woman we see in the sequel (one of my favorite movies).
The Challenge Of Financial Survivalism
In entrepreneurship, I’ve witnessed (with myself and others) how we chase the next form of provision to survive. Paycheck to paycheck. And, it's not just entrepreneurs who face this persistent challenge. We feel hunted by the reality of our obligations. In many cases, fulfilling these obligations is just beyond our reach.
From project to project, I witnessed a friend just barely getting by over the course of several years starting with when we first met. Several years later, he wanted help. He needed money to resolve the immediate situation in front of him (again). Seeing the pattern and wanting to permanently solve the problem, I offered to help him find a sustainable way to generate cash, to address the cause of his situation, not just the symptoms.
During Noodlehead Marketing this played out for me and my team as we robbed Peter to pay Paul. In fact, a client recognized this pattern in their failed project and decided to cut ties. While unfortunate, it gave us a jolt and the practical margin to launch us forward with a better paradigm.
Most of us have faced this challenge and felt this weight in some form. But, it's accepting this reality and deciding to change the way we play the game that matters most. It's to prepare appropriately, so we can move towards a better way.
Moving Towards Financial Sustainability
The first step in facing this reality is diving deep to find out what we’re really seeking. Do we want help towards sustainability? Or do we want someone to do it for us? It’s nice to have help. It’s a blessing to receive from others, but if we’re able, we have a duty to contribute towards wise working and sustainable financial management.
Look in the mirror and make the commitment to change for the better. Once you do, here are several steps to move out of a cycle of unhealthy reliance, and self-sufficiency
- Simplify Everything: Life is hard enough on its own. Remove unnecessary elements to keep it easier (although not always easy) for minimal management.
- Eliminate Debt: Taking the long journey is hard, even without a heavy pack to weigh us down. Do everything you can to knock out foolish or unexpected past expenditures.
- Grow Your Margin: With time and money, slow down life and make room for the not just the expected, but the unexpected. Plan for the worst case scenario and when it works out for the best, relish in the fruit.
Life is hard, and it can feel like a relentless chase we can't escape.
The legend goes that cows run the same direction as storm clouds while buffalo turn around and run against the direction of the moving clouds. Both get rained and stormed on, but because the buffalo are moving in the opposite direction they minimize the amount of time in the storm. Cows extend the time.
If we turn and face reality head-on, we'll minimize the amount of time and energy we give to the various challenges that come our way. Doing so will lead to a more prosperous life for ourselves, family and community.
Will you keep running from your problems or turnaround and face them head on?